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Old 09-11-2013, 06:16 PM   #1
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


I'm not sure if this is the appropriate forum for this. If not I apologize, and would really appreciate a redirect to a better spot.

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Hi all, we have had some serious problems with contractors low-balling us in the past. We are doing a gut remodel of a new home, and just started work with a new contractor on a large project.
I'm so frustrated and amazed by the rampant dishonesty and incompetence we've experienced so far that I'm not sure if I'm being reasonable, paranoid, or have completely lost my mind.

The demolition line item for our 1200 sqft 2br/1ba unit (taking everything down to bare studs including flooring, all cabinetry, appliances and fixtures, all drywall, and removal of several interior stud partition walls) was ~$10k line item in our proposal. This was inline with other bids we received.

Now demo is nearly complete, and the contractor is saying a big change order will be necessary, ~$5k - $7k.

The reason?

"90% of interior wall finish was not sheetrock, as assumed in the bid, but was plaster and lathe, which takes more time to demo, and incurs larger dump fees because of heavier weight".

This is in San Francisco fwiw, where I expect dump fees are exorbitant compared to most places.

This reeks to me. In truth, ~60% of the wall surfaces were plaster and lathe (I have everything drafted in CAD). Patches of the plaster and lathe were exposed during walkthroughs, so if it's so much more expensive, you'd think the contractors would be on the lookout for it.

I can't imagine this is legitimate, it would imply that demo of everything (floors, stud walls, windows) expect for plaster and lathe is extremely cheap.

How you can help:
Do you have experience/expertise with demo, and have an informed opinion as to whether this is an unreasonable change order?

Do you know of other online resources/forums I can check where I could ask a community of contractors about this?

What would you do, is it even worth trying to fight back on this CO, or is this a big enough red flag that you'd jump ship now?

I feel so beaten down. We've been burned so much, and are trying so hard to do due diligence in selecting contractors. I was really hoping this new contractor would help us turn a page - great reviews on angie's list and yelp, a 20yr license record, detailed bid with reasonable prices (not too cheap, not too $$).

I don't know if I'm trying to fool myself into believing this CO is ok because I can't take any more of this, or if I'm so raw that I'm being overly sensitive.

Sincerely appreciate any help you can provide.

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Old 09-11-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


Sounds like a load of BS to me.
All this should have been ascertained before the demo even began.
Any job can come up with some surprises once things are opened up but that amount of overage is just nuts! And why would he wait until it was done to tell you about it.
No way does plaster weigh that much more then sheetrock to go up with that much of a price difference.
PS Angies list is a joke!!!!!!!!! Only one getting rich is Angie.
File a complaint with them and see how far that gets you.

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Old 09-11-2013, 07:32 PM   #3
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


Joe is right----a 50 to 70 percent over on demo? He looked the place over before bidding----there is just no excuse I can think of for that much of an up charge---'

I think you may want to can this guy before he bankrupts you with 'unforeseen ' extras that were there to be seen before he started.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:06 PM   #4
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


A contract is a contract. As a professional, it's the contractor's responsibility to thoroughly investigate the work that's to be done so his bid reflects the true scope of the job. Of couse, unforeseen circumstances can arise, but this situation, in my opinion, isn't one of them. The guy didn't properly check things out, so the overage is on him. Be prepared, however, for him to fight you on the issue. In my limited experience over the years with situations such as this, he will bluster and threaten to sue or put a lien on your house if you refuse to accept the additional cost, but will probably give up if you stand firm. Also, I would be surprised if your contract doesn't say that all change orders must be approved in advance, before any additional work is started.
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Old 09-11-2013, 08:52 PM   #5
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


i would tell the guy to pound sand, in not so nice of a way.
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:04 PM   #6
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


I was going to use those words,too. Go pound sand!
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:15 PM   #7
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


they should have brought this to your attention that day they arrived on site before starting the demo if it was going to be an issue.

what does your contract state?
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:55 PM   #8
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


its simple. they have a scam going. low bid, get job, then upsell.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:57 PM   #9
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


Sorry to tell you that you hired the wrong contractor. For a lot of the reasons already mentioned.

Professionals estimating a full gut remodel know what they're up against or COULD be up against.

And I agree with Joe there's NO WAY that plaster and lathe requires that kind of up charge. I removed plaster and lathe in my own home in a few places. Yes it does take a little longer to rip out than drywall, but it's not enough to justify that amount. The part that takes the longest is removing the nails.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:53 AM   #10
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plaster + lathe demo - please help


Count Angie's List as a lesson learned. You already know that there are more scam artists out there than honest people.

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